Wayward Wanderers Walking Group

Beer-Branscombe Mouth

February 22, 2010, prb, Comments: 0

Good crowd; rain avoided



Having met at the Anchor in Beer, and welcomed our potential new member, the group set off up Beer's attractive main street, moving away from the sea.  Our route first took us off the road opposite the point where the B3174 comes into the village.  This was, however, for only a short stretch, and we soon rejoined the road leading towards Beer Quarry, passing the long row of almshouse-style cottages, and then more modern dwellings.  Close to the village edge, we struck off the road up the footpath known as Bovey Lane.  This continued muddily in a north-western direction mostly through well-wooded terrain for almost a mile.

At this point we joined a north-south running lane, and were confronted opposite by the long entrance drive to the historic Bovey House.  Here our esteemed leader gave us some print-outs containing interesting historical background to the house.  It seems that there has been a house on the site since at least Saxon times.  It is also suggested that earlier the Romans may have established themselves here or close by to protect their source of freestone which they found in  the Beer area.  The present house dates back to 1592, and has had a range of owners since. 

Incidentally, "freestone" is defined as any fine-grained stone, such as sandstone or limestone, that can be shaped easily for building without a tendency to split in layers.  Interestingly, it has been suggested that "freestone" is the source of the term "freemason", the dictionary alternatively suggesting that the term "freemason" was used to describe masons who would travel widely to work on large buildings.



From the old quarry we took to the lanes, heading generally southwards to the entrance to Beer Quarry.  By the quarry entrance we left the lane, taking another muddy path through woodland to the south-west.   This path in particular proved to be very slippery and, with some steep gradients also, meant that most had some difficulty staying upright in places.  Eventually we emerged onto the lane running between Branscombe village and the beach.


But not for long, for our leader found another slippery path to tease us with before we were permitted to arrive at the coast.  Eventually, however, we were allowed enjoy the refreshment stop we had been promised.  Here we paused while most of us sat on the benches outside the cafe with a cup of tea or coffee.


Soon enough, though, we had to continue.  First over the stream running in the valley bottom, and then we started climbing.  Up a well grazed grassy field initially, then onto a path through a settlement of cliff-side caravans and cabins.  Then our path took the lower route, along the undercliff.


This is another ancient landslip relic, Hooken Undecliff, which dates back to 1790 when some 7-10 acres of clifftop land plunged 250 feet towards the sea.  This left a broken undulating tangly-vegetated mass of ground not dissimilar in character to the more well-known and larger landslip that occurred to form the undercliff between Axmouth and Lyme Regis. 



In my view this route is a more attractive walk.  Although the steep climbs and descents make it similarly arduous, especially so today with the slippery conditions, it is more visually appealing because the sea is in view most of the time and the slip has left some stunning chalk pinnacles standing exposed to stand sentinel over the route.


The undercliff walk extended for about a mile, ending with a flourish - a stiff climb up to the open plateau at Beer Head, where we took advantage of the fine  views of the coastline to east and west.

 
The remainder of the walk proved relatively undemanding, mostly across gently sloping fields and paths until the caravan site on the outskirts of Beer came into view.  Here most of the group had parked their cars, so their walk ended here.  The webmeister and some others had parked in the village, and continued on downwards to end their walk close to Beer's main street, passing this visually coherent terrace of sea-facing cottages just uphill from the Anchor.



Our thanks go the Phil and Vanessa for today's entertainment and punishment.  Phil has regained the unofficial mudmeister title with his customary flair, and given us a history lesson into the bargain.  The route was not that long, just over 5.5 miles to the Beer Head caravan site car park, or about 6 miles to the village centre, but the slippery conditions underfoot and the slopes encountered more than made up for that in giving us all some good exercise.  For those interested, the total climb was about 375m.

A plot of the route has been uploaded to GPSies

http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=ozsafrwfrwnrkucu







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